Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Best Part of Christmas


This year was the first year that the girls really understood holidays. During Hanukkah Josie was very excited to be able to light the Menorah herself. This Christmas Lili wasn't even afraid to sit on Santa's lap and they were both soooo excited Xmas Eve.

The best part of Christmas was making that dream come alive for them. While Mommy was upstairs reading Twas the Night Before Christmas. I went outside under their windows and shook jingle bells. They couldn't wait to go to sleep because they didn't want to miss Santa. I even put reindeer "hoofprints" on the front porch and took bites out of the carrot they left for Rudolph. LOL I loved it! They ran downstairs Xmas morning and before the presents they wanted to check and see if Santa ate his cookies and if Rudolph ate his carrot.

CJ had a great first Xmas and loved opening presents. He went from toy to toy and checked everything out.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Hair Do's




I finally got my holiday order in from Snapaholics.com and finished the braids that the girls have been wearing for a week. I hope you can see in the last picture....I finished off some of the braids with little jingle bells. It is too adorable! The girls just love it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

You Tubin

I found a great You Tube video about doing criss cross cornrows. Jo is wearing them for the holidays. If you feel like trying your hand at it take a look:




Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Little Wishes

Our local foster parent organization, The Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, has a wonderful program that provides toys, clothes and special event funding for kids in state care. Little Wishes is a year round program but during the holidays it grows even bigger. Baggage wrote a great post about it here. But I want to give you, fellow foster parents, another special reason to think about fulfilling a foster child's holiday wish.

I love the Little Wishes program for one secret, selfish reason. Healing.

Vivi was our second foster child, the first child that I loved so completely and fiercely and then lost her forever. If you are a foster parent, you know that ache, that grief, that forever longing and wondering. She may be where she is supposed to be, but that doesn't always keep the pain down. She is my daughter, I had the wonderful honor of caring for her during her first 7 months of her life. I quietly remember and honor every birthday that she has. I wonder what she looks like and how she is doing now. I wish I still had some connection, something that would make me know that she is safe, loved and happy.

I know I may never have that...but I do have Little Wishes. Every year as early as possible I scour the site....looking for my Vivi. I have been so elated to be able to buy her special Little Wish every year since she left me. It may not fix the ache but it makes it so much better for a little while.

If you are a foster parent, consider this request, find a child on the site that might remind you of a special foster child that left, and grant their wish. The child might be the same age, or have the same name, anything that might give you a connection to your little one. Take some time to honor and reflect on the wonderful little souls that we've had the honor of knowing, even for a short while. I'm always surprised at how healing one little present can be.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Look at my big boy!

CJ is doing soooooo well. He is in the 75th percentile for height, which is totally a new experience for me since all my preemies have stayed tiny little things. My first boy is a bouncy baby boy in every sense of the word. He jumps, stands, falls, tries again, climbs, chases.....

Lili works within the limitations of her disability adapting the world to meet her needs....CJ works with and around his. He is such a fighter....legs don't want to bend? Must be time to start cruising on furniture. He just doesn't stop. He's growing and changing so quickly. Just look at my big boy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bad Blogger

I've been a bad blogger lately. I know. Life has been swirling and swishing all around me lately and it's wonderful. As a SAHM my life is often mundane and routine so sometimes it's nice to be caught up in a whirlwind. Even if it is quite hectic....and a little stressful.

So back to our Lakehouse dream. We've been looking at different investment options for a while. My wife and I are a great team and often revisit and revise goals as they come within reach. We've been able to pull ourselves out of debt, create a family and carve out a wonderful home for ourselves by goal setting and planning. We would be great business partners if I could ever decide on just one thing to do with my life.

We've been researching real estate investments and came across Christine Hrib Karpinski's book Profit from Your Vacation Home Dream: The Complete Guide to a Savvy Financial and Emotional Investment in a magazine article. It fit exactly with what we were trying to do. We were trying to make a financial decision yet fulfill an emotional dream. So we jumped and purchased a place that just yesterday showed up on the top 25 places to raise kids. How cool is that?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Circle of Life


So this past summer we visited a little town in Michigan on the lake. We loved it. We've been thinking about buying an investment property that might serve as my retirement account (since as a non working partner of a same sex couple I cannot have an IRA or 401K) and possibly second income. We took the leap this week and bought a place near Lake Michigan. Eeeekkk!

I'm busy as *&*)#$ dealing with inspectors, appraisers, real estate agents and mortgage companies.

I promise I'll be back soon and give y'all more details.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sugar Free

So let me just tell y'all right now that giving up sugar is a lot like giving up cigarettes.....but boy do I actually FEEL BETTER. Wow. I really do have more energy. Halloween was the worst day though. Just seeing all that candy coming and knowing I could have any. Torture.



But more about the life of a foster parent......

CJ's parents have disappeared. I'm hoping they just lost their apartment and haven't been someplace where they can call the SW. I'm praying mom isn't pregnant again and trying to hide. (ya know that would happen after I give away my baby stuff)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sugar Sugar

When we came home from vacation I was determined to get myself back in order.
2. Remember to schedule my own doctors appointments.
My DP is convinced my thyroid is out of whack. My mom and oldest sister have thyroid issues and have been on sythetic replacement for years. I was a little alarmed that the checklist online fits me in every catagory. When I first became a new mom I stopped getting pap smears and ended up in the early stages of cervical cancer.....take care of me first, take care of me first...chant with me now.
I made my doctors appointment as I promised myself I would and got my lab results back yesterday. My thyroid is fine...but I'm diabetic. My doctor has given me six week to try control it with diet and exercise before she prescribes pills. I love that I have a doctor that is willing to work with me (especially since we don't have domestic partner benefits and pay out the wazoo for my insurance) and give me some control over my own health choices.

I'm also very mad at myself and more than a little embarrassed. This is all a result of my own poor choices. Sugar, caffeine, carbs, sugar, caffeine, carbs, energy crash....repeat cycle. I'm overweight and unhealthy. I already had one wake up call in June when another sister had a heart attack.

I'm hoping that drastically changing my diet (no sugar, almost no carbs) will give me enough energy to start working out. Because really, after making breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, dressing & undressing, changing diapers, brushing teeth, braiding hair, cleaning, dishes, laundry .....I rarely have enough energy to go to bed.

But man I'm gonna miss my sugar.




Thursday, October 18, 2007

Felt Sushi



We had sushi for lunch today in honor of the felt sushi I made last night after the kiddos went to sleep. I'm having a blast with this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Felt Food


My newest little obsession. I stumbled across this blog a few days ago and have fallen in love. Our goal for this holiday is to make most of our gifts or give "experience" gifts (theater tickets, museum memberships) for friends and family.

I love this little fake food. Mine is made out of inexpensive crappy felt squares you can find anywhere. The kids love it. I love it. It's so completely blissful to me to do the same monotonous motion of hand sewing. I get lost in the tiny stitches and the spacing between them. I love that in 10-15 minutes and can dream up, start and finish an entire little project. I ordered a craft book on ebay with lots more ideas. If you know me IRL don't be surprised if your kids end up with a big grocery sack of felt food from me. Who knew a unedible sugar cookie could be so satisfying?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Babywearing


I've been trying to write a post (and email back a fellow foster parent....I'm still with ya Beth) and none of my words are coming out right. I swear the older I get less and less stays in my head. I'll be going towards something look to the side at the cat and forget what I was walking towards. Information falls out randomly. But anyway.

I've been babywearing since Jo was born. I found information about Kangaroo care when looking for help for preemies. That lead to babywearing. I started out making my own ring slings then Mei Tais. I later starting purchasing carriers at www.thebabywearer.com after I became too busy with babies to sit down and sew. I have a ring sling, a wrap, a few mei tais, a podeagi and now two soft structured carriers. CJ has been my biggest baby yet and I recently starting looking for a heavy duty carrier to keep up with his weight gain. Yesterday my new carrier came in. I'm still fiddling with it and getting used to a high tech carrier but take a look at my Beco Baby Carrier.

It came at just the right time. We've all ended up with vicious colds. CJ has started wanting nothing but mama. He fell asleep in the Beco yesterday when I was just trying it on. He is clinging to me most of the day even though he's crawling like a champ and already pulling up to stand.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Zen mama style

We're back from vacation and as usual I'm playing catch up with laundry and cleaning. I always come back from a change of scenery with big plans for doing better. I've cleared out a portion of the basement and had my niece come over and set up a playroom for the kids down there. My living room, dining room....well entire first floor actually....are toy free. It feels so good, like a can breathe in here (not to mention walk without tripping over something). No one warns you about the mounds of plastic you will accumulate as a parent. It multiplies overnight. I keep threatening to not buy another toy ever because the kids get so many as presents for birthdays and holidays they could fill their own toy store. Yikes, and here I am trying to teach them about being thankful and non materialistic and they own everything their heart has ever desired. But I'm getting off track ...again.

So being back from vacation and having some perspective on things I've decided to hire my niece to come clean my house once a week. It absolutely kills me to know that other people (my family) may think that I can't care for my own family but I just feel so overwhelmed lately. This will hopefully free up some time that I can concentrate on being a purposeful parent and not a reactionary one. Too many times lately I feel like all I'm doing is reacting to a spill, fall, sister-hitting, cat-food-eating incident that I'm not spending any time supporting or encouraging my kids. That makes me one grumpy, resentful mama. I'm trying to carve out more time to rejuvenate ME so I can be more of the mommy I want to be and not the stressed out mama I was becoming.

I'm trying to:

1. Spend 15 minutes a day stretching.
Going all out and saying I will exercise everyday is setting myself up to fail...stretching seems relaxing and most of all attainable.

2. Remember to schedule my own doctors appointments.
My DP is convinced my thyroid is out of whack. My mom and oldest sister have thyroid issues and have been on sythetic replacement for years. I was a little alarmed that the checklist online fits me in every catagory. When I first became a new mom I stopped getting pap smears and ended up in the early stages of cervical cancer.....take care of me first, take care of me first...chant with me now.
3. Create a peaceful environment.

Being a very visual person, I know that my environment has a big effect on my mood. For me that means constantly decluttering and surrounding myself with reminders of great times. I'm going to order some oversize prints of some of the pictures I've taken recently.


4. ASK for help.

Gulp. Why is that one so hard? I like doing things my way. I get stressed out doing every thing. Vicious cycle.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Photo Post



Wednesday, September 19, 2007

We go on a BIG boat mama!

We're getting ready to go on our first Cruise. Gramma and Grampa are coming with us and the girls are both very excited to go on a big boat. We've been talking it up for weeks. We'll be touring most of the west coast, staying in the states since CJ will be in respite with some foster parent friends of ours. (BTW his case was kicked out of the drug court program and now we head to regular family court)

I'm so glad we had a couple of vacations planned this year, I've needed it. Being a foster parent and being a mom to preschoolers in general, is so hard. It is so draining emotionally. That damn roller coaster dragging your heart around is just too much at times. Another parent at the girls preschool asked me this week how to I handle having so many things out of my control. The answer is "I don't".

Being a mom has made me more patient and has made me let go of so many things. I totally understand why my mom was so nonchalant when I was growing up. I was her sixth child, she was 53 when I became a teenager. I imagine by that time nothing ruffled her feathers. I feel myself becoming more jaded in life. I'm less joyful and more discontent in life with the abuse, neglect and general "unfairness" I see. Sunshine Girl on a Rainy Day recently did a post that has me thinking. I keep coming back to the quote she uses:
As Jack Nicholson sardonically put it in the movie As Good As It Gets: "It's not true. Some people have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car."

Cindy posted a website in her older child blog that has a Compassion Fatigue test from the Florida State University Psychosocial Stress Research Program. I have an extremely high risk for Compassion Fatigue and Burnout. Boy am I feeling that right now.

I'm thankful I have so many blogosphere friends that get me reflecting but still keep me moving onward.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ah....feels like fall

Sometimes I think that as a stay at home mom I'm isolated, sometimes I think I'm so overwhelmed with people needing me that I'll never be alone.

This pic is from my "Mom's Day Off" that I had about two weeks ago. DP took a day off to stay home with the kids and I got up and left the house at about 8:30 and didn't return until suppertime. It's been three years since I've had a day off just for me (my last pap smear I had my feet in the stirrups and a cranky baby in my arms).My day was more than wonderful. It was bliss/happy/calm/energizing good. I took my camera and had a photography morning at a local sculpture park, did some shopping (alone!) and went fishing with my mom. I really miss nature. I really do. Having non-walkers really limits where you can go. I wonder if my kids think nature is the stuff that surrounds the playground in the park. It was so peaceful to be surrounded by green and even dip my toes into a creek. It has me thinking that we need a little lake house somewhere.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Snuggle Puppy

So this past weekend we actually took the plunge and *gulp* gave away all of our baby clothes. Now even if they told me the biggest sob story I'll have to say no (and I NEED to say no) and not take another baby. It actually doesn't feel as huge as I thought...more natural than anything. It's quite funny to me that most "typical" couples would include some form of birth control in their family planning at this point, and we are just passing on supplies as our family planning technique. LOL

To keep you updated on CJ's case.....well first let me say that I LOVE this bouncy baby boy. Oh does he have my heart in his hands. He is SOOOO my snuggle puppy.

His mom has been missing court since she got out of rehab and for the first time, dad missed too. The judge discussed taking the case out of the special drug court program and we're expecting that to happen at the next court date. I'm hoping that will make the situation better. As it is the SW actually said last week "I think mom is using" and mentioned that CJ's sister was home at the time. Yet still did nothing to protect the little girl! As a mandated reporter shouldn't I report that? To whom? The social worker that told me? GRRRRRRRR Really guys, I feel that I should do something, but what? What's better... getting dragged into this failed system or watching your mom get high on heroine?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Post for Bacchus




A post for Bacchus who is thinking about remodeling his vintage bath.

I love how vessel sinks look. I hate cleaning, repairing and maintaining my vessel sink.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Getting some things done

Sorry I've been missing lately.

My nephew is here doing some handyman jobs around the house for us. He needed some $$ and we had a long list of honey-do's as neither of us are especially handy. I'm enjoying getting some things done around here - I love a completed to do list.

So....Blog ya soon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back to School Stuff




We're gearing up to get ready to go back to school around here. The girls don't start for another few weeks but I'm trying to get us back to more of a routine to make the transition easier. I made this picture schedule for the girls in the morning and it's working so well I'm going to make one for bedtime too.

If you have a school age child going back this year make sure you check out Flylady's Student journal to keep everything organized. I use her regular journal too.

I'm also trying to meal plan better (again...still?) and I've read some pretty neat ideas in this Back to School cookbook from my favorite recipe site Allrecipes.com

Got any back to school sites or tips to share?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

If I Could Do Anything

So I know my blog doesn't always stay on track or focus on much most of the time. But, that's how my life is too. I've done so many things in my life, I've been a
  • Teacher
  • Corporate Trainer
  • Door-to-door vacuum salesperson
  • waitress
  • cleaning lady
  • interior designer
  • custom drapery designer
  • store manager
  • custom framer
  • fashion merchandiser
  • bartender
  • fine artist
  • banking representative
  • entrepreneur
  • stained glass artist
  • minister
  • mother
  • motivational speaker
  • foster parent
  • landlord
  • fast food worker
  • cell phone technician
  • driver
  • receptionist
  • architect assistant
  • photographer
  • painter
  • crafter
I've been reading a book I own called I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was . I read it once before when I quit my job, went back to school full time and finally finished my Bachelor's degree. The book says I'm a "Scanner" -that means I like to learn about a lot of things...a jack-of-all-trades if you will. I've always been good at many things but I've never been able to decide on just one thing to do with my life. I've always taken on projects and side jobs just to learn something not necessarily to earn money. Being trained as a custom framer and a drapery designer were pretty cool and I love having those skills even today. I've always felt like I had a problem because I couldn't stick to just one thing. But reading the book has really helped me accept that I don't have to. I can do a hundred things well and be just as happy as someone that does one thing greatly. Accepting that has opened up the world for me.

I'm thinking about these things again because after our decision we can finally look forward and decide to do something else for us. DP has been reading the book after my urging and she is really excited. She picked her college major by default and has been wildly successful in a job that she doesn't really like. As of today she's enrolling to get a master's degree in Library Science. If she could do anything in the world....she would be a librarian.

Now I just have to figure out what I want to do for a while. So I'm going to start focusing in on more goals and write down everything I want to do in life. Just last night I mentioned to a friend that I wanted to learn how to sail....he immediately said that a coworker of his has been doing just that all summer at a nearby lake. They give lessons there and you can rent a boat to learn on. Right on.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A big GRRRR to the system

So I've been waiting to blog about this for a while because I was hoping that this would be resolved quickly. But that would be asking too much of a disorganized mess of a system.

CJ has cerebral palsy, strong hypertonia from neonatal abstinence syndrome and now hip displasia. He wears a hip brace twice a day during naps and all night. We will be picking up his new leg splints this week. He receives an hour of Physical Therapy and an hour of Occupational Therapy a week. He goes to CP clinic once a month at the local Children's hospital and sees other specialists regularly.

His request to be catagorized as a medical needs foster child was turned down. WTF? His SW said (and yes I'm paraphrasing) but he's so fat and happy! OMG

We now have to get even more records....which is soooo easy when you're not the legal guardian (ask Baggage) get the pediatrician and therapists to write letters and then we can try to appeal the request.

You gotta be kidding me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Princess hair



Taking the old adage "your hair is your crown" quite literally I created a princess crown hairstyle for Josie this week. Using a star parting pattern I made two strand twists and connected each of them all around her head. It was quite adorable and Jo loved telling everyone she was a princess.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Whirlwind

Our very close friends had a whirlwind match yesterday. They went into their first staffing informed, prepared and hoping for the best. They came home with two kids! They will have a weekend visit, take them back on Monday to gather their belongings and bring them home for good on Friday.

If they were chosen we thought it might be a fast transition because it's so close to the new school year...but wow. During their 2 1/2 hour drive home we dashed over to their house and straightened up the kids room and stocked up on kid friendly snacks. Our friends went to bed last night a little overwhelmed and shocked. From zero to mommies in just a few short hours.


Calling all instant families out there.....what can we do to support them through this whirlwind?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What the?

So the grocery ads came in the mail this week and one of the smaller low cost food chains had this picture on the front of the ad. What the heck is on this hot dog? Blueberries and ranch dressing? Anybody know?

Monday, August 6, 2007

Goals

My wife and I are obsessive goal setters. Her because she has always been a successful overachiever, me because if I don't have a plan, nothing will happen.

I grew up in a very poor, uneducated family. When I was in my early twenties working a corporate job I got hooked on self improvement seminars, books and audio courses. Goal setting and positive thinking was a completely new concept to me that no one I knew ever talked about. I loved it. I was (and still am) inspired by it. Now that I'm writing about it I'm thinking I need to start updating my collection since it's mostly tapes and I no longer own a tape player. I really want to teach my kids about it so that they can clarify for themselves what they would like to do with their lives early on. I always think about Tiger woods and wonder what it would have been like to find something I loved and been able to hone that skill my entire life.

We regularly have discussions about what we really want out of life, how to plan for it and what we can do now to get there later. A new financial tool I've been using is a great online site called Wesabe it's really helped me see exactly where our money goes.

One of my lofty lifetime goals is to live waterfront. I would love to wake up every morning to the sunrise playing off the water.

What are some of your goals?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Amazon's grocery store




This past week I got all of my amazon grocery orders in. I give it two thumbs way up! Here's the scoop.

Amazon has tons of grocery items now and you can get order just about anything that you can typically find at a grocery or retail store. They sell in bulk like a Costco or Sams but there is no membership fee and everything over $25 has free shipping. Bulk items delivered to your door rocks. No carrying big boxes of stuff to your car or into the house. With three little ones this was the biggest selling point to me. But I'm still very financially conservative (cheapskate) so I only ordered items that we use regularly: laundry soap, dryer sheets, toilet paper and trash Bags. I only ordered items that were comparable or lower prices than I normally find during local sales.

Here's the best part though....Every month amazon has different sale items, my best find was one of these sale items. If you bought so much of the All brand (I bought soap and dryer sheets) you got an additional $15 off your order. Then when I received my shipment some of the bottles must have been squeezed during shipment because it was a gloopy mess. I called amazon and they immediately sent me an entire replacement shipment at no charge. So I got.....drumroll......18 bottles of laundry soap for $40. Hello, I love amazon grocery.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Just so you know

I'm done.

CJ will be my last foster child.

The rollercoaster of emotions is too much. The worry is too much. The grief and loss is too much. I can't do this any more.

I'm tempted to give away all my clothes and supplies to the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition's KidStore so that I really am unable to take another placement. If I decide later on to adopt (private adoption) I will buy new things that belong only to that child and don't have the memories of lost children attached to them.

There is no straw that broke the camels back. Just a realization that enough is enough.

Bumper Crop

I'm lovin the garden right now. I wish I could grow lawn in little pots. This year's garden helps me plan next years garden and what I need to do differently. First I need to plant ONE tomato plant. Lili and I are the only ones who will eat them. I need to plant half the amount of bell peppers - they have done sooo well and everyone likes them....but we're soooo sick of bell peppers and the plants are still growing strong.

I've started gathering seeds from flowers that I see going to seed (daylilies in parking lots, hibiscus at the zoo) and I'm going to clear out one planter just for flower starts.

I'm going to get my mom and MIL these planters for next year and build some stands for them. My mom even printed out the above picture and showed all her neighbors what her citified daughter is growing. I love it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

That Soda will Kill You

A huge U.S. study of middle-aged adults has found that drinking more than one soft drink a day - even a sugar-free diet brand - may be associated with an elevated risk for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of factors that boosts the chance of having a heart attack or stroke and developing diabetes.

"We found that one or more sodas per day increases your risk of new-onset metabolic syndrome by about 45 per cent, and it did not seem to matter if it was regular or diet," Dr. Ramachandran Vasan, senior investigator for the Framingham Heart Study, said Monday from Boston.


Wow. My mom and I often have this conversation where I ask how she did it with 6 kids and she says she didn't have all the "junk" that messes up parenthood. The more news stories like this that come out the more I think she's right.

We still have this back and forth conversation about convenience items though. Like paper towels. My mom started out washing clothes in a creek on a washboard, then a tub style ringer washer and a clothesline to dry. The thought of less laundry to her is like hitting a goldmine. She knows about "going green" but still loves her disposable tree-killing-landfill-filling paper towels. LOL I don't fuss at her too much though....cause lord knows I have a hard enough time keeping up with laundry as it is....and all I have to do is push a button.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Success!



Guess who is potty trained? Josie! I didn't want to post any earlier in case it was just a passing fad...but she's been diaperless for almost 4 days now. Do you know how happy I am? YEAAAHHHH

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hair Happy



During one of our "parent workshops" at the family week we just attended was a session on multicultural families. What I thought would be a sharing of information, resources and information quickly turned laughable. One particular area that always gets to me is the lack of interest in learning about AA hair in transracial adoptions. It really was scary how many people thought it would be better to cut off their little girls hair rather than learning how to properly care for hair different than their own. Out of our small group of parents I was the only person who enthusiastically enjoyed creating different hairstyles.

It was obvious many parents spent zero time learning about hair care and the cultural implications of hair in AA culture. The facilitator asked me to do a workshop next year.....which is in itself laughable to think that a midwestern white girl like me was the best expert they could find on the subject.

As a white woman trying to raise strong, proud, black women I am aware of how critical the definition of race, culture and beauty is tied to hair- specifically curly hair. Hair has strong personal, cultural and even political meaning within and out of the black community. I'm constantly trying to learn more about different styles, products and resources -not only for myself, but for the women my girls will become.

I hope to arm them with enough information and resources that they can make educated thoughtful decisions about their own hair. I hope to take the learning curve out of caring for their hair by passing on what I've learned about what works for each of their individual hair types. I hope to give them strong ties to their culture of origin by maintaining hairstyles that are stylish among their peers. I hope to build a strong mother-daughter bond by spending time lovingly grooming and styling my daughters hair. I hope to always let them know how beautiful they are by being informed and thoughtful in caring for their beautiful curly hair.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back from Vacation

We're back from vacation! We had a great time at the lake. I doubt we will return for the RFGL events as they were unorganized and overpriced but the area that we visited was beautiful and I would love to go back to the lake. The kids loved playing in the sand at the beach, picking blueberries and having lots of playmates around. I just loved the lake. I've never been to a big lake like Lake Michigan and to me it was just like the ocean without the salt water in your eyes. There were a few days of nice waves to play in and plenty of rocks and shells to pick up.

I'm catching up on my blog reading and trying to get all the sand out of the girls hair. We went through a few hairstyles this past week so I'll post some new hair adventure photos soon.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Jo's Birthday Party



This past weekend was Josie's 3rd birthday party. She's been so excited and continually asks "Is today my birthday?" We'll be at GrammaGramma Grampa's on her actual birthday July 6th and she is going to be spoiled rotten. I can't believe my teeny tiny baby is this sassy, sweet diva.

We've tried to convince her that "the people" don't let three year olds wear diapers. She has to wear underwear after she turns three. (My pretty pretty princess picked out little boys race car underwear). I don't know if it will work but I'm willing to try anything, including lying and scare tactics. Aren't I just horrible? Toddlerhood is wearing me down. They are stubborn, energetic little creatures. Who decided that this stage should be right after the sleep deprivation of infanthood? There's a design flaw there (yes I'm speaking to you god/buddha, higher power).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pride

It's holiday time around here. This past weekend was Gay Pride. For the past 7 years or so we have hosted an annual Pride Breakfast before the big parade. All of our friends and family show up early to chow down and walk the 2 blocks (from our new house anyway) to the parade. My family, this year just my sister and niece, usually marches with PFLAG and we have quite a few friends in the local community band. The parade is an especially great time for kids as they are just showered with candy, toys and necklaces from the floats. It's a great time and a tradition that I love.

This year pride will be extended for us because we're attending the Great Lakes Rainbow Families week. We've been busy this week planning and packing, getting ready for vacation. We're renting a lake house with a two daddy family that is from that area. This will be our first year attending but we're hoping that it will be neat enough to make another tradition for our family.

So.....Happy Pride!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Peekaboo

Just a peekaboo at baby CJ. His fine hair is finally starting to show the hint of some beautiful curls to come.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Photo Post



Today I wanted to put up some pics I've been meaning to share but haven't taken the time to write about.

1. A pic of Jo and her first BFF. Our newly adopted cat Maestro.

2. A picture I took of my newest great-niece, Lana Arlene, with her mom and brother.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Learning more about Cerebral Palsy

With two CP special needs kiddos in the house we're super busy. Lili (and Jo) goes to her special preschool 4x a week. Both her and CJ get OT and PT 2x a week each. We're going to start going to a special CP clinic at the local children's hospital 1x a month. We'll see a lot of specialists all in one afternoon. I'm learning more and more about CP.

In the United States today, more people have cerebral palsy than any other developmental disability, including Down syndrome, epilepsy, and autism. Although children with very mild cerebral palsy occasionally recover by the time they are school-aged, cerebral palsy is usually a lifelong disability. In most cases, the movement and other problems associated with cerebral palsy affect what a child is able to learn and do to varying degrees throughout their life.

CJ has Spastic Cerebral Palsy (stiff and difficult movement)
Lili has
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy (disturbed sense of balance and depth perception)

Both
of their cerebral palsy may be the result of an injury to their brain before, during, or after birth. In Lili's case, as a very premature baby, bleeding into the brain (intraventricular hemorrhage) caused extensive damage. I think in CJ's case nuerological damage was caused by toxic injuries, or poisoning, from alcohol or drugs used by the mother.

June Hair




When I'm doing a long term hairstyle (anything I want to last for 3 weeks or more) I build it up and take it down. With Jo's current hairstyle the first few days I just cornrowed the front and had the back in piggy poofs. Then I did a few box braids in the back and added beads. Then the next step in the hair style I'll put it in piggies. A few days later I will change the beads. Then a few days later I will divide and rebraid the back box braids so there are more, smaller braids. This time I then put all of the braids into two buns. This is my newest favorite style. I love Jo's hair in piggy poofs but getting it to stay clean and pretty is a challenge now that her hair is so long. This new style allows me to have that look and it stays nicely for days with minimal upkeep for me. I love it. (do you see her lip scar in the picture? my poor baby)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Well isn't that neat?


A friend just emailed some pics she had taken of her kids through a generous photographer with Celebrating Adoption

If you have adopted within the past year (or if you're going to -hang on to their info) they will waive their fee and take portraits of your newly adopted family member. Check it out! I've contacted a local photographer through their site and hope to hear back soon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wake up call

I'm always trying half-heartedly, on and off to lose weight. I have an elliptical machine, we belong to the YMCA, sometimes I count WW points, sometimes I eat only local, fresh earth grown items. Sometimes I plan out meals a week or even few weeks in advance to control portions, calories and budget. Sometimes (like last night) I'm too tired and I give the kids something nutritious and cave in to the baked Lays that have been calling my name.

Then sometimes, like today, I get a wake up call that says "THIS IS SERIOUS DAMMIT!" You see I have a horrible family history of heart disease. My maternal grandfather died of a heart attack, my maternal grandmother had her first heart attack at 62, my own mother in her fifties. My sister died of a heart attack two years ago at only 40 years old. After my sister died I saw my doctor and was diagnosed with mild high blood pressure. Not enough to take medicine but enough to freak me out....for a few months. Then back I went to my old habits and 10 more pounds came with me into the new year.

Today another sister went to the doctor for migraines....her blood pressure was so high (high blood pressure is anything over 140/90 - hers was 222/124) he immediately did an EKG that showed that she has recently had a heart attack. She had a heart attack and didn't even know it!

So now my grandmother, mother, all my siblings and even one niece are on medicine to control blood pressure. If I don't do something RIGHT NOW. I will need it within a few years.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Another gray hair

Jo started preschool just fine. The teacher had to explain to the other kids that the shiny spot under her nose was glue & stitches and not boogers. LOL Of course that didn't last long because she picked off the glue and stitches just 4 days after they were in. (can I have a side of guilt with my guilt platter please?) By that time they can't re-stitch so it looks like we're in for a nasty scar on my beautiful girl. (Can I supersize my guilt platter?)

But the real reason I'm going gray this week is that during naptime yesterday the girls were playing in their room and Jo thought a good game of beat-my-sister-over-the-head-with-maracas would be fun. I walked into, quite literally, a bloody mess. Head wounds bleed. Alot. Clothes, floor, bedding, furniture, hair, toys...just about everything. (I'm sorry but can I just order the whole guilt menu?) We would have made another trip to the emergency room if a friend who just happens to be a pediatrician wasn't already here visiting. So Lili is fine, no stitches required. But the sisters are being separated for a while. Different chairs at the dining table, different rows in the minivan and different bedrooms.

So how long does sibling rivalry last?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Emergency!


We had our first big emergency yesterday. While walking down the front steps Josie fell off the side and sliced her lip open on the metal alarm company sign. We had just returned from 4 hours at the children's hospital during a new leg splint fitting for Lili. We turned around and went right back for another 5 hours in the emergency room.

After 4 stitches, some glue and two worried mamas, everything is fine. I'm so surprised at how well it looks it was a really big gash. I felt awful and guilty that I wasn't there to protect my babygirl. But these things happen right? (someone tell me these things happen, kids fall and I'm not a horrible mom)

So here is her first day of school pic....stitches and all. I love her hair like this. Yeah for new hair pretties.

Monday, June 4, 2007

School stuff

Lili will be continuing to attend her special language preschool during the summer session and the first day is Wednesday. We've decided (budget be damned) to send Josie too for this semester. She is always so excited when we drop Lili off at school and I'm hoping she'll still be excited Wednesday.

This past weekend we went to a kids birthday party that was held at one of those big-inflatable-bouncy-things places. We almost had Lili stay home with DP because we figured she would just throw a fit and get overwhelmed. Boy did we call that wrong. Lili had an all out, no fear, more-more-more, blast and a half. Josie on the other hand was scared of everything and didn't participate at all (well except for blowing out the birthday girls candles mid-song) and was uncharacteristically shy. I'm still searching their bedroom for the alien pods because these are not my children. Who came down and switched personalities on me? LOL

CJ had his first IFSP (like an IEP but for kids under 3) meeting today. With his CP diagnosis he qualifies for any services he needs. He already has PT once a week and now we'll be adding OT once a week as well. His SW attended the meeting and told us that mom relapsed this week. More self help meetings were added to her goal plan. *sigh* I don't know if she's gonna make it. This isn't a good sign. Sorry baby boy.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Hair Supplies




If you don't have an ethnic beauty supply store near you I just found a great one online that has some inexpensive kids hair accessories. We have many stores near us but I rarely get the chance to go unless I want to risk three grumpy kids making a scene! LOL. Check out www.extremebeautysupply.com

Friday, June 1, 2007

Blogging for LGBT Families


Rather than writing a political or theoretical post today, I'm going to write a very personal one. One that many LGBT families can relate to.

I am a mom.
I wipe noses and change diapers.
I'm there for every middle-of-the-night feeding, every boo boo and tummy ache.
I play peekaboo and build sand castles.
I make every meal and snack.
I'm the first person they run to when hurt, scared or tired.
I sing nursery rhymes and play tag.
I nurture and care for traumatized children.

I am a mom.



I'm mama, I'm the primary caregiver. However, I am not a legal parent. My partner does, but I have no rights to my children.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fresh peas

I am thoroughly enjoying myself as a gardener this season! I love my Garden Patch boxes because it makes it so easy to see success. I started out just growing on the balcony of our loft and I've expanded my garden to the back yard. I keep dreaming of next years garden and how much bigger it's going to be. We're already enjoying the sweetest sugar snap peas and my lettuce should be salad size soon.

I checked out a couple of books from the library this week on sustainable farming and mindful eating. I'm especially liking Harvest for Hope by Jane Goodall (the chimpanzee lady). As our garden keeps growing I'm becoming more excited about preparing meals. I often struggle with food in general but I'm feeling less stress about it right now as I see it go from seed to plate. I've been reading Sarah's blog and I'm going to use her Kale recipe on some swiss chard I bought at the farmers market this past weekend.

Now if only those tomatoes would hurry up!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hello RAD where ya been?

Sometimes I can live my life like a normal mom. I complain that the laundry and dishes never end, I fret over birthday parties and I talk a little too much about poop and pee. But then, some days I am reminded that our lives will never be "normal".

After a pretty uneventful holiday weekend Lili had a raging meltdown tonight. Lili is a sweet little girl who is mentally about half her chronological age. She has mild Cerebral Palsy and has only been walking unsupported for about 6 months. She has a diagnosis of RAD but we have worked through some pretty rough attachment issues. I say worked through.....but it's never over.

Tonight I cleaned up feces from the floors, walls and bedroom door. She took all the clothes out of her closet that she could reach and smeared them with poo. She was unconsolable. It took forever to calm her down. After she was cleaned up I laid down with her and told her over and over again that everything was alright, she could go to sleep now.

But really I have no idea if everything is alright. I don't even know what set her off.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Wii Chronicles

Old school Atari was the last time I really played video games. I rocked Frogger. I missed the Nintendo, Sega, Xbox (whatever the cool gaming system was/is) boat. I dabble in online games here and there. I play at Exodus 3000 for a few minutes at night after the kiddos are all in bed. If you want to earn me some more moves click my referral banner!
I sometimes play on Pogo because I like their word games. But mostly I suck. Your hand eye coordination goes by the time you start needing reading glasses.

I tried to play this guitar game at a friends house and sucked so royally I embarrassed myself and the entire Atari generation. But last night that same friend brought over Wii. Wii is cool. We bowled, boxed and even played baseball. My arms hurt like I actually went to the batting cages. It's really neat, I'm impressed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Introducing



Lana Arlene! She is named after her grandmother (my sister) and great-grandmother (my mom). My niece had a relatively easy labor this time around and was literally holding the baby in waiting for the doctor to arrive to deliver her. Even though I've had 4 newborns in the past 3 years I still forget how tiny they are. It was such a great experience being in the room when she was born.

We brought my great nephew home with us while his mom recovers with baby Lana in the hospital. Jo and Lili are both in heaven to have a playmate around 24/7. He is fully potty trained and I'm hoping some of it will rub off on the girls. So far Jo is excited enough to get him a treat when he goes...but not excited enough to go potty herself. Grrr.

Gotta go....

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Rollercoaster Ride

I haven't done an update about CJ in a while because, well everything changes daily. This roller coaster ride has so many ups and downs. I've learned not to hold my breath....but I still worry more than I should.

CJ's siblings were almost put into care but great-grandma stepped up and took them back. But this past week they were with mom at a visit again.

Parents were supposed to be starting weekly unsupervised visits. They didn't do what they needed to at the last minute. They have lost momentum and are not making much progress in their case plan.

DFS proved that mom "ghosted" her drug test. She took a substance that makes your test come back clean. They can't do anything about it but note it in the report. They can't screen any future tests to see if she's still doing this.

Mom is beginning to give up hope and asked that her mother be given custody. Grandma wants mom to "clean up her own mess for once". I get that she's not trying to enable her daughter any more, it scares me that he could spend years bonding with us and then she'll decide to step up.

Sometimes I'm really glad that we only get calls for babies. When we were first approved as foster parents I thought that the greatest need would be for older sibling groups. We are open to kids up to 8 years old, 2-3 siblings. Because I can be home with the kids we only get calls for preemie and special needs infants. The sleep deprivation gets to you ....but I don't know how I would protect/buffer an older kiddo from all these worries.

CJ has been seeing a barrage of specialist to rule out a prenatal stroke or brain bleed.
Today the letters were finally put into his chart.

C.P.

Cerebral Palsy

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sunshine Girl

Sunshine Girl On A Rainy Day has written an informative post about the foster child catagory being dropped from the next US Census. Please stop by her place and read this important post. I've written my representative and I hope you will too.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mom's Day


My mom gave birth to me when she was nearly 40 years old, after she had already raised my 5 older siblings. I grew up with my nieces and nephews since I was 10-20 years younger than my own siblings. Today my youngest niece asked me to be in the delivery room with her when she gives birth next week. Her mother, my closest in age sibling, died two years ago of a heart attack at only 40 years old. I'm so honored and proud that I get to share this experience with her. I'm also very happy that I can be there for her at a time when she'll be missing her own mom.

I took this picture of her bulging belly today & I'm excited to record her birthing experience and take the first photos of our newest baby girl.


PS. If any one has any tips about comforting & supporting a woman during labor I'm all ears!

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Dropsies


My mom calls it getting a case of "the dropsies". I'm suddenly uncoordinated and clumsy. I don't know what's wrong with me! In the past few weeks I've been walking into walls and corners, stubbing my toes, hitting my shins and falling down. I've broken 4-5 dishes in the past few weeks because I didn't realize where the edge of the counter was.

Last night I was closing the ground floor windows before going to bed and lost my balance. I slammed the window shut on my own finger. It's not broken and the cut isn't that deep but it's black & blue and hurts like hell. The girls are going to have to wait a few more days for a new hairstyle.

Everyone told me eyesight would start to go (I think I'm going to need longer arms soon) no one told me getting older would make me a clutz.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

More Hair adventures



Jo is sporting some pretty cute two strand twists this week. Lili is in simple poofs that I'm changing every few days. I've been doing simple hair-do's lately as I gear up and prepare for some intensive summer do's. I'm going to try to do some labor intensive small cornrows on Jo's hair and leave them in for 4-6 weeks. I've ordered some sleep caps (we already use a satin pillow) to try to keep them nice for longer time periods.

I've been experimenting with making my own hair and skin supplies for a while now and I almost have a recipe perfected. All the measurements are approximate because I just eyeball most things. Here's the recipe so far:

LiliBella Lotion Bars
3 oz pure unrefined Shea butter
2 oz beeswax
2 oz pure coconut oil
essential oils for fragrance

I cut up
the shea butter into smaller chunks and place in a microwaveable bowl. I then grate the beeswax from handmade candles my BIL gives us. I melt both of those in the microwave. I add the coconut oil and essential oils then mix together. I have a small tin that I use as a mold and let sit until solid. It looks like a little bar of soap but it's actually lotion. I like making a bar so I don't use too much product on their hair. I rub the bar in my hands like soap and then apply to their hair like pomade or gel.

I use a similar recipe for their skin but use more oil and less wax. Lili's skin just glows from it. When I took the picture of her above I was just amazed at how great her skin looks now. I've started using it too.






Sunday, May 6, 2007

The weight of the world







Sometimes as a wife/mother/sister/daughter woman I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. So many people to care for.

Lately I've been feeling like I don't have any "successes" in my life. What I mean is... that what I do doesn't have a completion or a identifiable measure of accomplishment. The dishes always need to be done, the laundry is never finished, the kids will soon be hungry/dirty/sleepy again. I've been saying "I give up, you win" a lot lately. The washing machine doesn't seem to care that it has won though. I'll see if he still doesn't care when I replace him with a new LG high efficiency. (Is it really healthy to be snubbing my washer?)


This past Friday I was having one of those days when I just didn't want to get out of bed. CJ woke up more than a few times in the middle of the night and I was feeling the sleep deprivation. It took everything I had (and some help out of DP's workday) to get everyone clean, dressed and fed in time for our morning PT appointment. We had a doctor's appointment to rush to immediately following. By the time we got home I was exhausted and ready to crash. Then the phone rang, my mom had been in a car accident. After driving to the wrong hospital and then waiting at the right hospital for 5 hours she was released with only some minor injuries. (Thank goodness!)

This past week CJ had to be sedated during an MRI. That small taste of substances again has made him quite irritable. He also had to have a minor surgery to remove and infected gland under his tongue which he didn't really enjoy much either. I've had one craaaanky baby this week.

Lili's final day of this semester of preschool was last week. I'm looking forward to having a little more free time for a few weeks. I'm planning some daytime trips to the zoo and museums. We're hoping that a slot will open up and Jo will be able to join Lili during the summer semester starting in June. She is so ready for school! I won't know what to do with myself with two in school for half a day.

Well yeah I will. Laundry.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Getting my hands dirty

















I've been remiss about this blog lately as we've had a burst of sunshine. I've been digging and planting, watering and dividing. I love spring. I have the vegetable garden all done. This year I'm doing the whole veggie garden in self watering containers called A Garden Patch, they are similar to Earthboxes but less expensive. I've planted tomatoes, peppers, green beans, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, califlower, carrots, herbs and snap peas. The deck off the master bedroom is a growing food pantry now.

I've also been landscaping my small city yard. We moved here almost 2 years ago and I keep adding more every season. This year I ordered most of my bulbs on Ebay. I only purchased from private sellers who were digging up and dividing their own plants. I got some FAB deals! I also had a good friend give me hundreds of canna lily bulbs. By the time I'm done I'd like to have a lawn free yard!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Aaaahh....Bliss

During a light lunch of strawberries, nuts, cheese and toast today Josie turned to me and said:

"Happy lunch mama!"


Yes indeed.


So, happy lunch to you too, friends!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sue 'em

An adoptive mama in New Jersey is sueing DFS for not protecting her abused and traumatized daughter while in their care. Check out the full story here

"Individual lawsuits are pretty rare," Zalkind said. "You have to have someone who is willing to represent the child, and so often kids don't have that kind of support or advocacy."


It seems like so many foster care reform efforts fall short of making any big changes. A lawsuit doesn't seem like a bad idea. If you get hurt at work there is a recourse. As an adult if someone assaulted you -you could press charges. You could demand restitution through a civil suit.

Sometimes I really don't understand why the neglect/abuse that brings kids into care isn't cause for a criminal case. Even now in CJ's case, his SW has said if the same information was being brought in front of a criminal judge instead of a family judge there would be jail time. Why is it okay if kids are involved? I really don't understand.

Maybe if every kid who was not protected while in care was able to sue.... Maybe someone would listen. Maybe something would change.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Viva Las Vegas















Dinner at the Bellagio, Cirque de Soleil at Treasure Island, slots at Luxor, a facial & massage at the Spa and lunch at Mandalay Bay. That was my weekend, how was yours?

This was our first child-free getaway. My Il's came here to watch the kiddos and I joined DP who was already in Vegas on business. The best part was the Cirque show....AMAZING. I'm not a very good gambler, I don't want to give up my money to even put it in the machines, but I did win $16 after putting in $20. That was enough for me. I really enjoyed visiting all the theme hotels/casinos and Luxor was my favorite.

But beyond the touristy stuff the best part of the mini-vaca was: sleeping 10 hours a night, going to the bathroom by myself, drinking an adult beverage and eating food off a plate while it was still warm. It really doesn't take much to make me happy. Hey, isn't that the first level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs?


PS. An update on the placement call....he has found a bone marrow match and won't need a resource family until after he has recovered from his transplant surgery for another month or two. So we will revisit this decision in a few months.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Resources






In the foster care world foster/adoptive families are often called "Resource families". After yesterday's placement call and the impending placement possibilities of CJ's sibling(s) and Ekida's soon-to-be-born sibling I'm trying to decide how much of a resource we are.

How much can we handle emotionally? What is the best decision for our family right now? How much can we give of ourselves? I've written before about "The need is the calling" but the need is so great I personally will never be able to fill it. How much can one family do? I don't know.

I'm usually a very logical person. I define a problem, list a set of criteria that would define the answer and then test conclusions based on that logic. There is no logic here. These are tough decisions. Today I'm agonizing over things that are really beyond my control.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Call & IEP's

Another call for a placement. Sometimes it just breaks my heart that we are needed so badly. This call was for the little one mentioned in this post back in mid February. He needs to be close to the children's hospital as he now waits for a bone marrow transplant. The call was just a message on the answering machine so we will get more information tomorrow and make a decision. It seems like too much to take on right now but we'll wait for more info before we say no to him. The fact that she's calling us means that they are having problems finding a place for him to stay.

Today we received a copy of Lili's IEP(Individualized Education Program) in the mail. In evaluating children with special needs there are a number of areas of developmental delays/disabilities that qualify SN kids for an IEP. Seven areas in fact. Lili qualified in 6 of the 7 areas:
1. Vision
2. Health/Motor
3. Speech/Language
4. Social/Emotional/Behavioral
5. Cognitive/Adaptive Behavior
6. Academic/Pre-academic Achievement

The only area she did not needs services/adaptations was Hearing. Is this a good time to mention that we're going back to the ENT to get new ear tubes in and see if all these ear infections has caused any permanent hearing impairments? Oy Vey.

....and some good news for a change.... Lili's IEP meeting in late January was the last time her Receptive and Expressive language were tested. At that time she scored 19 months in Receptive and 18 months in Expressive. She was tested again today at the language based preschool she has been attending since then and her scores were at 36 and 30 months. Those are HUGE gains in just 2 short months. Yeah Lili! Not so long ago I was dreading what starting preschool would mean. Now I can't be happier with her transition and her improvement. Yeah again!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pouting

I've been trying to write a post to explain my feeling without sounding whiny but I don't think I can. An online adoption community forum that I have called home is in an uproar and is no longer a place that I want to belong to. I'm hurt by some people I've considered friends, I'm morning the loss of a support system that I've relied on for so long and most of all.....I'm just pouting because my home is gone.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Missouri's Waiting Kids

Just some sad facts today:

Who are Missouri's children waiting in the foster care system?

11,681 children are waiting in foster care
29% of foster children are between ages of 0 and 5
30% of foster children are between ages of 6 and 12
41% of foster children are between ages of 13 and 21
Average number of birthdays a child spends in foster care: 2 birthdays (26 months)
55% of children experience three or more foster care placements
15% (1,773) of children live in group care or institutional settings

What are Missouri's foster children waiting for?

6,095 (52%) are waiting to be reunified with their birth families
3,192 (27%) are waiting to be adopted
Average time foster care children have been waiting to be adopted: 36 months

Where did Missouri's children go after leaving foster care in 2004?

6,047 children exited foster care
3,374 (56%) were returned to their parents
1,337 (22%) were adopted
842 (14%) left to live with relatives or via guardianships
329 (5%) "aged out" of foster care at 18 or older
165 (3%) left for other reasons (ran away, transferred, died)


*Data from AFCARS (2004), ASPE Claims Reports (2005), and ACF Budget Reports (2005).

Monday, April 9, 2007

Food

A huge issue for me as a mom (and a woman) is meal planning and nutrition.

As a parent I don't want my kids to have the same food issues that I do. I grew up very poor and food wasn't always available. I was always praised when I finished all my food. My mom even took proud pictures showing me holding a clean plate. I still have "clean plate issues". If it's on the plate I feel obligated to eat it. In this day of huge portions that's obviously not healthy. Even though I know what the problem is I still struggle with it. Conversely DP struggles with sweets and treats. A trip to my MIL's house is a feast of cakes, candies, cookies, chocolates, popcorn and even hot cocoa with fresh made whipped cream. So yeah, we have food issues I'd rather not pass on to my own daughters.

My MIL and my DP are gourmet cooks. They swap recipes and I'm often drooling over the latest creation. That is until I realize it has a pound of butter and a quart of cream...or it's wrapped in bacon and stuffed with a special cheese that adds 10 pounds at the sight of it. My mom was a simple, healthy cook out of necessity. She didn't know what gourmet cooking was but she knew how to feed 15 people with a block of government cheese, a can of salmon, a bag of elbow noodles and a few homegrown tomatoes.

I'm trying to find a healthy medium. I'm trying to please too many picky eaters. I'm working around food allergies, high blood pressure and SID texture issues. I'm trying to make sure our meals are nutritious and delicious. Why is this so hard?

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Here comes Peter Cottontail




















My house is covered in eggs and candy. The girls have had a BLAST easter egg hunting. We've went to two community events and then did one egg hunt at home this morning. I think Easter now ranks right up there with Christmas/Hannukah in their minds. I'm going to have to buy another storage tub to pack away all the stuffed bunnies and plastic eggs we ended up with this year. We always try to be very conservative in what we give the kids, we have enough and they don't really want for a thing. But, two grandma's never feel as if they could have enough of anything. I am fortunate in that they listen and don't stuff the baskets FULL of candy (apple chips, fruit leather and fish crackers, YEAH!) and junk. Spoiled sweet.

CJ's mom went to Build-A-Bear and got him a nice teddy bear. Yesterday we went to the Botanical gardens to my favorite spot and I tried to get some nice portraits of him with it. He only wanted to cooperate for a few minutes but I got some good shots. Jo is always ready to pose and I got some great shots of her acting like a bunny. "Hippity Hop"

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Peanut Areas

Ack.

I'm getting sick. My nose is runny and I'm drained of all energy. Too bad mamas don't get sick days. Or naps.

CJ has finished weaning off all drugs. So he's a tad cranky right now. We finally bought a swing today and he really likes it. I swear he gave a look that said....why didn't you do this last week? He's beginning to laugh, smile and coo. Having had 5 babies in three years this is my "exhale" moment. When the sleep deprivation is really getting to you and you think you can't make it anymore....they smile and everything gets better. They start sleeping longer and begin to show their personalities. Ahhhh.

Lili failed a hearing screening at school this week because she had a double ear infection. She hasn't been showing any symptoms either. Well other than the fact that I thought she has been being extremely stubborn lately. I've had to tell her to do things a million times before she listened. Turns out she couldn't hear me. One of her tubes had fallen out the week before and it looks like the other is beginning to fall out. So after this course of antibiotics it's likely we'll be scheduling another surgery.

While changing CJ's diaper Jo inquired about the "thing" that he has that she doesn't. We tried to use proper language and explain that boys have penises and girls have vaginas. She kinda got the boy part.....but thought we said "peanut". It was too cute to correct so now all boys have peanuts. Girls have "areas" because private areas was easier to say than a v-g combination.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Can I just whine for sec?

Lili has come soooo far. I know that. Developmentally, socially and attachment-wise. She really has made great strides.

But why does she still have a nervous breakdown when we go into a store? Not a fit or a tantrum....but a complete meltdown. Hitting me, sobbing uncontrollably, wailing so loud everyone turns around to see if I'm killing my child. Why? I ask her what she wants.....Do you want to sit in the cart? Do you want to walk? I once had to sit on the floor in an aisle at Target rocking her like a baby and singing lullabies for 15-20 minutes before I could get her calmed down enough to even leave. I would gladly bribe her with sweets and toys if it would make a difference.

Sensory overload? Attachment issues? Trying to drain yo-mama syndrome?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Talking to foster/adoptive kids about their story















I've been wanting to make a book for each of the girls that tells the story of their history with age appropriate information. The perfectionist in me has procrastinated for months, I wanted to draw it in Corel, edit it in Photoshop and have it professionally bound. This week I just sat down and got it done. I used blank 4x6 index cards, Sharpie markers and a simple photo album. It doesn't have any words so the story can be told orally and changed as they understand more.

Jo loves her book and wants me to read it over and over again.